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age / 32
crops / apples, cherries, peaches, grapes, asparagus, and sweet corn
business / Schultz Fruitridge Farms, Inc. Bill works along with his parents and three siblings.
education / Learned from family on the farm along with business courses at Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Q: What was your path to farming?
I was born into farming. I am a third-­generation grower, and it was something in my blood from the very beginning. Farming is always a challenge and I like a challenge. Being a grower isn’t easy—and it’s not boring—there’s always something to do.

Q: What challenges have you faced?
Life throws you curveballs and you roll with it. For instance, last year [2012] was a very humbling experience. We lost all of our fruit crops. Most everyone did in the state of Michigan. Through those experiences you grow—you adapt—and hopefully you become a stronger individual, a stronger operation that’s better able to deal with adversity.

Q: What excites you about the future?
So much—everything—in farming is constantly changing. If you aren’t changing with them, then you will be left behind.
Our family farm is always tweaking the ­operation and adding things and ­rebalancing others. In our farm, we are diversifying our crops, including opening our own ­microbrewery where we will be selling our own craft hard cider and our own craft beer. So, it’s a little outside our ­normal realm, but we have experience with marketing from ­running our farm market. There’s a lot to look forward to.

Q: What do you expect of your generation?
The youth is the future. If the older ­generations don’t encourage and ­incorporate the next ­generation into the industry—you’re gonna have a dead industry.